Top 10 Meryl Streep Movies: An Icon's Best

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Meryl Streep is earning raves for her performance in The Iron Lady (check out our review) as the first female Prime Minister of the U.K., Margaret Thatcher. Movie Fanatic believes Streep may finally earn that third Academy Award for her role in Iron Lady. She is without question the most gifted actress working today, so to choose her top 10 films is one difficult task. First, we must separate -- however difficult that may be -- the great performances she has given versus the great films in which she has appeared. So, these are the Top 10 Meryl Streep Movies of all time.

10. Postcards from the Edge
Channeling Carrie Fisher, Streep not only turned in a stellar performance in this fantastic film, but also sang like an angel in the film’s final moments. The “fictionalized” story of Fisher’s relationship with her mother Debbie Reynolds is captured in Postcards from the Edge (based on Fisher’s book of the same title) and leads our list of top Streep cinematic moments.

Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge

9. Mamma Mia!
Speaking of a singing Streep, the actress soared in Mamma Mia. Based on the Broadway musical production that featured an all-ABBA soundtrack, Mamma Mia landed in a crowded summer of 2008 movie marketplace and became an instant smash. Streep is the central character who is staging a wedding for her only daughter (Amanda Seyfried) on the Greek isle where she owns a hotel. When three of her exes show up at the invite of her child, who is seeking to find her father, zaniness and people breaking into song ensue.

8. Out of Africa
Robert Redford joined Streep on the landscape of Africa and produced a modern classic. Director Sydney Pollack not only got one of Streep’s finest performances as a Danish woman having an affair in Out of Africa, but crafted one of the best movies of her career. It is another example of Streep tackling an accent, something many actors shy away from. Here, she listened to hours of tape of the book’s Danish author to nail her performance.

7. Bridges of Madison County
In 1995 Streep took on the, oftentimes, thankless task of bringing a beloved book to the big screen. In The Bridges of Madison County, Streep teamed with Clint Eastwood -- who starred and directed the picture -- and created a film that more than satisfied the legions of fans of the book.
Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County

6. Adaptation
In 2002, Streep starred with Nicolas Cage in the film based on writer Charlie Kaufman’s battle with writer’s block. Kaufman was charged with bringing The Orchid Thief to the big screen and his effort lies at the heart of Adaptation’s story. Director Spike Jonze achieved one of his dreams by working with Streep and not only got a subtle and resonant performance out of the two-time Oscar winner, but also allowed the actress to take a risk in an offbeat film that is not her usual bag.

5. Silkwood
With the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster fresh on Americans' minds in 1983, Streep scored in Silkwood as a woman who spoke up against a cover-up when a nuclear power plant had a meltdown. The true story of Karen Silkwood and her efforts to call out her employers at her local power plant landed the actress her fifth Oscar nod.

4. Sophie’s Choice
A year prior to Silkwood, Streep appeared in Sophie’s Choice. Many consider this Streep’s most seminal film. The gut-wrenching story of a woman and her experience during the Holocaust gave Streep her second Academy Award, this time for Best Actress. Once more, Streep had to nail an accent for the part that was a cross between German and Polish. And she triumphed… again.

3. The Devil Wears Prada
We think The Devil Wears Prada is one of Streep’s best performances and honestly her biggest Oscar snub. The rumored real life story of Anna Wintour, Streep portrayed Miranda Priestly, the publisher of one of the fashion industry’s most powerful mags. The depths of her evilness is uncanny, yet it is those quieter moments, specifically opposite Anne Hathaway, that Streep makes what could have been a caricature performance and elevated it into pure excellence.

2. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
The early 1980s were a fertile time for Streep films. The year 1981 brought Streep new recognition as a serious actress with her role in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Based on the novel of the same name, the film criss-crossed centuries (19th and 20th) in the telling of a story within a story and astounded in the process.
Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer

1. Kramer vs. Kramer
Although Streep’s role was small, Kramer vs. Kramer would not work as well as it did without the powerful acting chops of the actress in the part that would earn her that first Oscar. Streep scored the Best Supporting Actress trophy and announced to the world that she was a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Streep portrayed a woman who suddenly awakes one day and realizes that she wants a divorce from her husband (Dustin Hoffman), leaving her young son behind. It was a film way ahead of its time, showing the painful effort that is raising a child by a single father. When Streep returns to the screen later in the film, it is heartbreak in overload. Cue the tissues.

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Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep Picture

Meryl Streep has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any actor or actress in the world. Not shabby. Most recently, the star made us laugh in the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada. She was born in New Jersey.

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